Teaching Large Groups: a Higher Education Academy Toolkit

Large Group Teaching is one of of the ‘New to teaching toolkits’ developed by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and well worth taking a look at as it talks about student-centered teaching, design and interaction. There are also some really useful teaching tips.

Tour de France peloton 2014 by @kshjensen

Tour de France peloton 2014 by @kshjensen

Large Group Teaching (LGT) strand of the New to Teaching Toolkit explores some of the practical strategies that can be of assistance in making LGT a rewarding and engaging experience for all concerned.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)

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2014 HEA Conference Highlights

I was at the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Annual Conference held at Aston University in Birmingham last week. The event marked the tenth anniversary of the organisation.

Here are highlights from some of conference sessions I attended:

Working together for future employability – an employer’s perspective

Keynote,  Morrison, HEA

Anne Morrison, Director of BBC Academy (the BBC’s organisational training centre), mentioned during her opening keynote that the BBC Academy uses Twitter to conduct staff development master classes. This is to enable BBC employees interact and engage with industry experts via a Q&A format.

I found this interesting and I would like to explore the use of social media tools like Twitter and Yammer as means of conducting staff development at the University of Huddersfield.

How to share good practice with busy academics across a large university

Kelly, HEAKieran Kelly and a small team of AV staff member identify and film academics at the University of the West of England (UWE) who wish to share their good teaching and learning practices. These videos are hosted on an internal portal for other UWE staff members to watch. There are currently 37 videos and the site gets about 39 unique visitors per day during the academic semester. Kieran stated that it takes about 2-3 days to record and edit the video resources. The issue of scalability was raised during this session’s Q&A.

I believe a way to get round the scalability issue and the cost of creating these video resources is to curate them instead. There are already many innovative teaching and learning video resources available for free on Youtube and Vimeo which could be curated for time-poor academics.

Digital development – experiences offering staff development using the student’s online learning environment.

Robson, HEA


Linda Robson and Rehana Awan reported on a pilot project at the Open University (OU) which conducted a staff development conference using asynchronous online communication. A decision was taken to convert the poorly attended staff development face-to-face conference into an asynchronous online conference. The conference keynote was recorded and uploaded on to the Moodle platform. OU colleagues who were selected to be conference presenters were asked to created 7 minute long screencasts which were also uploaded on to the Moodle conference site. These contributors responded to the comments and questions posted by online conference delegates in response to their screencasts. The initial conference feedback has been positive and there are plans to continue with this asynchronous format.

Establishing global connections to engage international students: lessons learned from an academic writing MOOC.

Wilding and Watkins, HEAElisabeth Wilding and Sebastian Watkins from the University of Reading shared their experiences of running an academic MOOC on the FutureLearn platform. This MOOC was aimed at international students and there were participants from over 140 countries. 60% of the MOOC participants had no prior online course engagement before enrolling on the course. Survey results revealed that participants’ interaction with peers and discussing things online with other learners scored low on the survey while learning new things and watching videos were popular. The Reading team plans to use the lessons derived from the MOOC to launch a SPOC (Small Private Online Community) next academic year.

I suspect that SPOC will be the next HE buzz word in 2014/15.

Post by Ola Aiyegbayo

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Inclusive Assessment in Practice – CALL FOR ABSTRACTS by 22nd August

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When: Monday 24th November 2014

Where: Hosted at Plymouth University

Cost: Please note that while the conference is free to attend (lunch and refreshments provided), delegates are required to book and pay for their own travel and accommodation.

This one day conference, hosted by the Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory in partnership with the HE Academy, will provide a forum to discuss and share the experience of academics and practitioners in inclusive assessment. The call welcomes abstracts for workshops (60-90 minutes), papers (20 minutes) and posters that offer insights into inclusive assessment in, and across, all disciplines. Abstracts (500 words maximum) are sought that address key themes shown below:

  • Changing the culture of assessment to be inclusive
  • Inclusive assessment design and delivery in the disciplines
  • Enhanced learning from assessment: feed-in, feed-forward and feedback

For more information about the conference and to submit an abstract online click here.

I saw this call in the June Higher Education Academy newsletter.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)

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Building our learning cultures: Putting the Teaching and Learning Strategy into practice

Yesterday was the 9th University of Huddersfield Teaching and Learning Conference, we had a serious number of colleagues booked to attend (about 175). Every year the Teaching and Learning Institute team, the staff development group and a steering group with representation from all the Schools in the University have the responsibility of developing this event where colleagues can network, share practice and learn about what is happening across the University.

2014 Teaching and Learning Conference

The day went really well and this was down to all the planning, checking and double-checking of sessions, rooms, food, booking and all those details that go into making a successful event.

Professor Tim Thornton opened the conference by talking about the many achievements in teaching and learning that we have seen this past academic year.


University of Huddersfield award winners 2014Then we heard from James Ritchie and Dawn Bagnall, two University of Huddersfield students, and they talked about the Student Teaching and Learning Consultant Scheme. This scheme has been running for the last two years and is all about promoting student and staff working together to develop student engagement, the learning experience and promote conversations about teaching and learning

Strategic Teaching and Learning Projects

Before lunch we heard from four ongoing strategic teaching and learning projects:

In the afternoon, delegates went to workshops or presentations of their choice.

Thank you to everyone who came and contributed to such a fantastic day!

posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)

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An interview with Janet Hargreaves: The development of teaching and learning in higher education

By Nicole Natur and Sunnie Swinburn (Student Teaching and Learning Consultants)

This is a guest blog post written by two of the students working as Teaching and Learning Consultants here at the University of Huddersfield. As part of their training they were asked to interview one of our National Teaching Fellows.

A new scheme with students working as teaching and learning consultants was introduced in 2012 at The University of Huddersfield. As new consultants we wanted to gain an insight into education and how it has progressed through the years. Janet Hargreaves, Associate Dean of learning and teaching, was kind enough to answer some questions for us. We asked her some details about her career from nursing to teaching and then about the Student Teaching and Learning Consultant scheme (STLC).

Professor Janet Hargreaves, Associate Dean of learning and teaching at the School of Human and Health Sciences, has had a career starting with nursing and now teaches at the University of Huddersfield.



“You don’t have to be the cleverest person in the world and you don’t have to be the most charismatic person in the world but if you look at how you’re doing your teaching… and make it better, you can always improve as a teacher”.


From theatre sister to professor
Janet started her career as a theatre sister working in an operating theatre. Having never pursued University immediately after leaving school at 16, she completed her degree part-time with the Open University when she was 30. She did not consider teaching in particular until she began clinical teaching as a theatre nurse.

Janet did not initially plan to be a professor; she just enjoyed what she did. Over 10 years, she progressed straight from her degree to do her certificate in education and on completion, pursued an MA in health care ethics. She went on to do a doctoral qualification; this was the highest qualification anyone would have expected of her at the time. This was considered to be unusual and also a luxury to have this as it would not have been the norm to have a lot of nursing lecturers with doctorates.

Janet conducts a lot of academic activity outside of the routine of her job, which includes researching and publishing. She found she had all the criteria to become a professor and decided to apply. Janet has always wanted to do more for herself and the University and this is what inspires her. She explains that the University of Huddersfield was the right University for her as it gave her the right encouragement. She found that when completing her academic qualifications, she felt an objective perspective coupled with positive support from those around her contributed towards her journey to where she is today.

Moving towards more student involvement, feedback and student engagement
There have been some positive changes in teaching over the past 15 years. Students are encouraged to be much more involved as there is increased student feedback and engagement. Janet does not believe it is enough for a lecturer to just teach, but that teaching is part of a package that includes research and scholarship. Researching, reading and writing for publications are all evidence of further positive change within teaching.

Bridging the gap between students and teachers
When asked about her views on the STLC scheme, Janet expressed that it is a “really good scheme” that is able to bridge the ‘gap’ between students and teachers.  She described the scheme as a double-edged sword that allows students on the scheme with a unique role as peers of students, rather than the teachers to bridge this apparent gap.

The STLC scheme, in Janet’s opinion, would be good if it was regularly offered as part of what the teaching and learning institute does every year. However, some concerns about the scheme are that it may become something that is perceived as remedial, or part of appraisal or performance management. This would, in essence, take away from the potential for positive enhancement through the scheme.

There are a number of aspects that require particular attention when a student observes within a classroom setting. Janet noted a crucial aspect includes the environment, this being the physical space and what it is like to sit in the classroom. Furthermore, the structure of the teaching is also important. Interestingly, Janet pointed out that it is important to observe the students in order to fully understand how the teaching is received.

The STLC scheme at the University of Huddersfield has the potential to influence other universities as it increases its profile and becomes ‘good practice within the (education) sector’.

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Exploring ‘Networked Learning’

This is part two of my impressions and reflections on being a delegate at the -Networked Learning Conference taking place 7-9th April 2014 hosted by the University of Edinburgh.

I think it is fair to say that I was still a bit confused by Day 2 as to what ‘Networked learning’ was all about but then I had certainly not done all I could do to read up on the history of the field so it was rather self-inflicted confusion on my part. I only mention this because for me this question of what is ‘Networked Learning’ all about seemed to actually be a sort of characteristic of the conference in its current ninth incarnation. (Disclaimer: this is of course very much my interpretation). So from the next two days of conference I think my highlights were:

Prof Steve Fuller improvises and enlightens

Day 2: I found the keynote from Prof Steve Fuller thought-provoking – excellent notes on the content were made by Peter J Evans

I liked his call for academics to do intellectual thinking in public and the lecture as a place to perform this thinking in and enjoyed his argument for the University as an innovative organisation/organism in the tradition of Humboldt and the tradition of the Enlightenment where knowledge is not simply reproduced but where individuals learn to think for themselves and make informed judgements following Kant’s motto Sapere Aude (“Dare to know”).

But to me it seemed to be quite focused on a sort of ‘lone academic on stage’ and I don’t think this really foregrounds the importance of collaboration which is the reality I work in. Of academics and other colleagues in support roles working together in course teams designing, delivering, researching, supporting etc. And then of course there are the students and the spaces they need to perform in but maybe that is for another time.

Somewhat coincidentally, today Mark Carrigan wrote a really great post Improvisation in Academic Life about Prof Fuller and his call for improvisation  – I think Mark does a great job of saying why Prof Fuller’s idea of improvisation is significant. You should read it.

Great pecha kucha presentations
I was fascinated by the presentation How do we know who we are online? Reputation, identity and influence in scholarly networks which featured the ethnographic research by Bonnie Stewart from University of Prince Edward Island. An innovative approach involving the ‘reputational economies’ of academia and social networks in relation to networked scholarly practices. To be fair any paper that combines the ideas of Clifford Geertz and Donna Haraway gets my vote.

‘What’s wrong with ‘technology enhanced learning’ by Sian Bayne from University of Edinburgh in which much turned out to be wrong with the term technology, the idea of enhancement and the notion of learning. Using TEL as a shorthand masks the complexities of the relations between technology, education, individual and the world.

Teaching and learning gets weird

Really liked the presentation entitled: Becoming jelly: A call for gelatinous pedagogy within higher education by Søren Bengtsen and Rikke T. Nørgård from Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University. Some great ideas (and an awful lot of philosophers thrown in) about the need to conceptualise and talk about learning in different ways without classic underlying narrative assumptions about linear progress and growth.

Collaboration, Connection, Cooperation and Community

Chris Jones from Liverpool John Moores provided me with a lot of background in relation to the concept of ‘Networked Learning’ as his presentation ‘The Politics of networked learning in an age of austerity‘ outlined some of the underpinning values and gave a really useful historical perspective.

Chris Jones called for networked learning to more explicitly deal with the broader political landscape which I think echoes points made in the keynote from the first day where Neil Selwyn called for more criticality.

I must mention that the #NLC2014 conference tweet stream was fantastic, so useful with great observations, thoughts and new people to connect with. Definitely a highlight.

I look forward to learning about the location of Networked Learning Conference 2016!

More info:

posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)

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First day Networked Learning Conference 2014

View NLC2014

It is the first day of the ninth international conference on Networked Learning 2014 and I made it in time for the official welcome. There was a doctoral symposium earlier in the day that sounded excellent according to the twitter stream but alas I was on the train travelling the fours hours from Huddersfield to Edinburgh so not there in person. But from the terms being thrown around like ‘heutagogy’ and ‘trace ethnography’ and intriguingly PHD research on beer by Steve Wright (@stevewright1976).

There was a great (and funny) intro to Edinburgh & Scotland from Siân Bayne who also told us that we are at one of the oldest Universities founded in 1583.

Need for a critical approach to technology in education
Neil Selwyn, Monash University, Australia was the keynote speaker and his presentation was entitled: Networked learning in 2014 – why it is crucial to be critical.

One of the delegates, Nicola Osborne (@suchprettyeyes) live blogged his talk and the questions from the audience which you can find here: http://nicolaosborne.blogs.edina.ac.uk/

I enjoyed Neil’s keynote specifically his insistence that there is a need to have a critical mindset or critical stance and to keep asking questions about how educational technology is embedded in political structures, power structures etc. and he gave the example of Audrey Watters, who writes about education (and technology), as someone who is an enjoyable ‘snarky’ voice that counteracts the tendency towards uncritical hype that surround some claims for how technology will revolutionise, transform and disrupt education. I find it very useful to read the Hack Education blog so I can understand what Neil was talking about. I think it would be fair to say that there was a mixed reception to the keynote but it certainly got everyone talking about what critical can mean though I am not sure there was much appetite for embracing pessimism as an outlook.

Take a look at Neil Selwyn’s research profile for more information:

I highly recommend Audrey Watters’ blog hackeducation.com

Networked and multiple identities
I headed to the session with presentations by Jane Davis (@JaneDavis13), Catherine Cronin (@catherinecronin) and Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) who had sort of joined up their presentations. Jane Davis started us off with an activity (always a good idea to get people going) mapping our various roles at play whilst we were also students to illustrate the overlap, complexity and how one role can be more salient at one time etc. A very useful exercise in getting us thinking about the complexities of students lives. And I am always happy when I get to glue stuff.

Catherine Cronin focused on the interaction between teacher and students and talked about the benefits of online spaces as ‘third spaces’ that are both formal and informal where students can see teachers being learners etc. She also highlighted – from work by Danah Boyd – that the networked world has brought about a really significant shift from ‘private by default, public by effort’ to ‘public by default, private by effort’. I really like a quote she used from Danny Miller:
“As studies become more contextualised it seems that the real lesson of online identity is not that it transforms identity but that it makes us more aware that offline identity was already more multiple, culturally contingent and contextual than we had appreciated” (Danny Miller 2013).

For me this rings true in relation to so many things at times attributed to a shift to online or use of technologies when in fact it simply reveals preexisting assumptions that we have been taking for granted about for example face to face teaching practices
Check out Catherine Cronin’s slides at ow.ly/vuVF2 and the paper Networked learning and identity development in open online spaces

Joyce Seitzinger talked about curation and made the very interesting point that people are able to use curation tools to build online identity without a lot of self disclosure. Using Pinterest boards as example where focus is mainly on artefacts with minimal info about the person curating the board.

Very much enjoyed my first day at my first Networked Learning Conference and look forward to tomorrow’s many many sessions. All the papers are available from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/info/confpapers.htm and you can follow us on #NLC2014.

Apologies for the rough notes and slightly rubbish linking, wordpress app not following orders (and it’s getting late) – I have since tidied up the links a bit (on 10th April)

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)

photo by @kshjensen (view from my hotel window) CC BY-SA 3.0

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